The Chicago Bears brought out the scouting cavalry to Northwestern’s pro day on Tuesday, March 14, fueling rumors about a certain offensive tackle who they might be eyeing for the No. 9 overall selection in the 2023 NFL draft.
Bears general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus were among the deep representation for Chicago at the Wildcats’ pro day workouts on Tuesday and both stood with Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald while watching Peter Skoronski, who is largely considered one of the top two offensive linemen in the 2023 class. Rumors about Skoronski to the Bears have been circulated since they traded down in the draft order from No. 1 to No. 9 with the Carolina Panthers last week.
According to Chicago insider Daniel Greenberg, the Bears sent a total of eight scouting representatives out to Northwestern’s pro day, while NFL Network’s Kalyn Kahler specifically noted that Bears offensive line coach Chris Morgan was among the posse.
Skoronski’s fit with the Bears has made more sense over the past few days as some of the NFL’s top free agent offensive tackles have signed deals with other teams. ESPN’s free agent tracker has noted that Jawaan Taylor is expected to join the Kansas City Chiefs, while the Denver Broncos have raked in Mike McGlinchey. The Dallas Cowboys are also working to bring back eight-time Pro Bowler Tyron Smith.
While four-time Pro Bowler Orlando Brown Jr. is still on the market, the Bears might prefer to avoid the presumably high price that would come with him and instead sink their resources into a first-round rookie, who would be contract-controlled at a reasonable price for the next five seasons.
Peter Skoronski Would Elevate Bears Offensive Line
Skoronski was the essence of dominance during his three seasons at Northwestern, starting all 33 of his career games as the Wildcats’ blindside blocker and getting better as both a blocker and an athlete in each of his three years. During his junior year in 2022, the 6-foot-4, 315-pound left tackle allowed just one sack, two quarterback hits and three hurries and finished with Pro Football Focus’ best pass-blocking grade (93.0) in the last two college football seasons — and one of the best of all-time. He also rated fairly high as a run-blocker, receiving a 79.1 that ranked fifth among Power 5 tackles.
The one question about Skoronski is whether his length and size better suit him to be an interior offensive lineman instead of a tackle in the NFL. Skoronski told NFL Network during his pro day that he would be comfortable playing wherever his future NFL team asks him to play, but he is also confident his skill set will still translate well enough for him to play tackle at the next level.
“I think I can play anywhere, including tackle,” Skoronski said Tuesday.
Either way, the Bears would be getting a major upgrade for their offensive trenches if they snagged him in the first round. They have a greater need at tackle with Braxton Jones the only serviceable option at the position right now on their 2023 roster, so keeping him at left tackle could be the play for Chicago. And Skoronski certainly wouldn’t mind the fit with the Bears, as a Park Ridge, Illinois, native.
“I think it would be really cool having the opportunity to play there,” Skoronski said when asked about the Bears’ heavy scouting presence at his Pro Day. “I’ve grown up in Chicago, I went to school here. I’ve witnessed this fan base and all my best friends are Bears fans, so it’s kind of cool to see how great that fan base is and it would be great to stay home and play here and play for a great team like that.”
Who Else From Northwestern Could Fit With Bears?
Skoronski was the top-billed talent at Northwestern’s pro day on Tuesday, but there are a few other prospects who could make a lot of sense for the Bears in the draft, including NFL Scouting Combine standout and defensive lineman Adetomiwa Adebawore.
The 6-foot-2, 282-pound Adebawore put up impressive numbers at the Combine in Indianapolis earlier this month, recording a 125-inch broad jump and a 37.5-inch vertical jump as well as blazing to the finish in the 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds. To put that into perspective, Adebarowe’s time was the fastest recorded by a prospect that weighs 275 or more pounds dating back to 2003, according to Next Gen Stats.
The Bears could certainly use a talent like that for their trenches, especially since Adebawore is an edge rusher who is also capable of playing the 3-technique. Depending on how the draft board falls, Chicago could realistically target him in the later parts of the second round with the Nos. 53 or 61 overall picks. They might also cross their fingers and hope he falls to them at No. 64 overall as the first pick of the third round.